I am pretty sure most people wouldn't last more than an hour around my family when we are at home in our normal state. We are intense every moment of the day. There is no downtime when the house is dominated by family members who are overly verbose, high in intellectual and psychomotor overexcitabilities and everyone is supercharged at once. It is a cacophony of bizarre chaos and it is relentless. We channel intensity; it is an ongoing condition. Nobody seems to take turns being extreme. Our energy can be too much for some but others seem to gravitate toward it. Those people we call friends.
Parenting gifted children forces you to think differently even if you never planned on it. That is how I became a radical unschooler and unconditional parent. My kids made me do it and I am forever thankful. They showed me how to parent them and accept their uniqueness with unwavering support. Gifted children are multi-dimensional beings who experience life in a richer more all consuming way and they require specialized parenting and education. They are more sensitive, intuitive, argumentative, knowledgeable, humorous and weird and there is no off switch. It is a wildly entertaining ride to live and love a gifted child and our days are never dull or predictable.
When we venture out into the world, our eccentricities come with us and permeate the environments we inhabit. Sometimes we are so noticeably different that I am sure we amuse and confuse the general public. Since I don't parent with any kind of behavior modification, bribes, rewards, punishment or coercion, there is no expectation of socialized obedience. We are who we are with no pretense. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable to experience but freedom to express ourselves and remain authentic reign supreme.
Or, as my six year old just stated, "What you see is what you get."
So, here we are living everyday with a very different perspective than mainstream thinking and I have recently been reminded; rather, assaulted by parents who are dealing with fear. Fear of letting go of educational norms and social conditioning. Motivated and paralyzed by fear of the unknown prevents many parents of gifted children from considering an unschooling philosophy and yet, unschooling gifted children is such a natural fit. Most of these parents were likely conditioned to traditional parenting and educational mindsets growing up which demonstrated the unquestioned status-quo. Back in the day, knowledge about the psychological development of children and the effects of parenting and educational choices were limited. Now we have ample research into the powerful effects of nature and nurture. Creating a stimulating environment and positive role modeling are of the utmost importance in our home.
A gifted child's innate ability, a variety-rich environment and uncoercive guidance can go a long way toward self-actualization. Loving our children unconditionally does more for the positive development of self then telling them how they should think and what they should learn and then giving them a gold star for following adult directives. Children make good choices by making choices so providing my children with the freedom to make autonomous decisions allows them to take control of their own lives without having to wait for adulthood. I am not preparing them for the real world. The are living in the real world now.
Since gifted children tend to be divergent thinkers, it only makes sense to remove any inclination toward in-the-box thinking. Self-determination, exploring the world around them and discovering who they want to be are important aspects of my children's development. We take a content neutral approach to learning and emphasize critical thinking, problem solving, life skills and character development above all else. What they learn isn't as important as knowing how to learn and enjoying the process. My children are more than capable of thinking for themselves and delving into whatever interests them. They are designing their own education, cultivating individualism and developing into well rounded hackademics. As a radical unschooling mom, I facilitate, guide, motivate, inspire and brainstorm with my children but above all else, I provide them with unconditional love and support. Each child is unique and therefor one size can never fit all. Disrupting education may not be for everyone but since we've opened the door to progressive thinking, it seems impossible to go back.
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